Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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6/6/2014
07:00 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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Geekend: Sarcasm Detector Wanted

US Secret Service wants a bucket for those times you are dripping with sarcasm.

and the beliefs of the person being sarcastic?

I actually think the Secret Service would do better with Facebook than Twitter, but the key is going to be in creating large databases of prior posts for context. If, for example, a known Democrat who has posted dozens of links supporting healthcare reform were to post, "I just love the GOP's latest attempt at repealing Obamacare," the sarcasm would be fairly obvious. But outside of the other posts for context, there's no real way of determining it. Sure, you can guess from the word "latest," which implies knowledge that the Republicans have attempted it more than 30 times. But you can't be certain.

So what we're really getting at here is compiling a lot of personal data about people and charting their statements against historical statements in order to establish probabilities, and that's not going to fly with people worried about privacy.

So does the sarcasm detector die there? Heck no. Even if the government realizes it can't be done, you know who can do it? Facebook and Twitter. I want a sarcasm and humor plug-in for social media.

What do you do when you type something funny into Facebook but you aren't sure the fact that you're joking will come through in the text? You add an emoticon or "jk," right?

What if Facebook did it for you? And what if they did it with a series of fantastic emoticons, ranging from a simple smiley face to an elaborate set of beautiful emoticons like these. There are 70 cat emoticons on this list alone. Clearly, there's a major difference between this cat (=^.^=) and this cat (=^_^=). And I can't even make some of the cats without going to a special characters menu. That's too much time for a Facebook emoticon. Let Facebook do it for me.

OK, the emoticons are a little frivolous, but how many friendships have been strained by someone's inability to make out a joke posted on a social network? If Facebook identified a joke for you with accuracy before your friend had to explain it, maybe there will be a lot less unfriending in the world.

Maybe, eventually, a Facebook or Twitter algorithm could even help you rewrite your posts to make them funnier.

Even if you find this whole thing frivolous, it's the perfect test bed for doing better at natural language processing. Whether it's the Secret Service or Facebook or Twitter that actually cracks this code, there's no better way to start than to figure out the nuances of social media.

What do you think? Does the notion that government types are trying to figure out humor scare you? If they do figure it out, do you think it'll improve their public service announcements? Can they do it without invading people's privacy? Would you enjoy it if Facebook started helping you with your own humor? Will computers ever truly understand natural language? Comment below.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/31/2014 | 10:06:01 AM
Re: Sadly we do need this
@ batye

Your right, point of view plays a major role in how everything is perceived.
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 7:01:08 PM
Re: Sarcasm Detector Wanted
all I could say welcome to the age of technology... in Canada we have now a big problem -

'No judgment, no discretion': Police records that ruin innocent lives


 -  http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/06/22/no_judgment_no_discretion_police_records_that_ruin_innocent_lives.html it getting a bit scary...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 6:57:23 PM
Re: Scary
could not agree more, same here... but where is should be fine line we shall not cross... or...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 6:56:19 PM
Re: Intent detector
this days, it scarey and interesting at the same time... as with comprehension is to each his own... as same with communication skills...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 6:53:08 PM
Re: Sadly we do need this
it more depends on the point of view... how I see it...
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 6:48:23 PM
Re: Sadly we do need this
I think that most politicians probably are like Sheldon Cooper when it comes to sarcasm.....lol
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 6:46:09 PM
Re: Sadly we do need this
I imagine many politicians are like Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Thoery when it comes to sarcasm.

"What's the difference between a fax and a text message again?"
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Moderator
6/19/2014 | 10:54:18 AM
Intent detector
I was just talking with a friend who wanted to be witty in an email but was afraid it would come off wrong. I think we could all use an "intent" detector sometimes. I have sent introductory emails to clients and actually stated, please assume any and all words in any of my emails are meant to help me help you and come with the best of intention. Think of my tone as upbeat and friendy. Becasue sometimes I have to tell clients something they don'r want to hear and without tone in email it's that much harder. with twitter it's even worse. you got a character limit and a whole host of people who forget that real people are attached to those twitter accounts and not some machine on the other end. Trying to protect through tweet monitoring is going to cause a lot of headaches.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
6/18/2014 | 3:09:07 PM
Scary
I am really worried about the extent of humor being allowed on the social media. Now as per the situation prevailing, nothing can be taken lightly. We need to define a fine line between humor and whats not. But we need to understand that is that fineline is drawn by its thinker. I agree that the understanding of intent is the biggest concern.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/16/2014 | 12:48:49 PM
Re: Sarcasm Detector Wanted
@zerox203- I get what you are saying. There is a real danger in picking the wrong target when building these things. And certainly crime predicting intelligence would be awesome. 

The question I have is which comes first? Social media scanning or crime intelligence?

I would think social media scanning would be a part of an crime prediction software. And sarcasm detection would be a part of any social media scanning.
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